American consumers do not want to lose antibacterial soaps

By Katie Bird

- Last updated on GMT

A large majority of American consumers are in favor of antibacterial soaps and do not want to lose the opportunity to purchase and use them, a recent survey found.

The research was supported by the Personal Care Products Council and follows a number of calls to more strictly regulate chemicals used in the antibacterial products such as triclosan.

According to the poll, which was published in partnership with the American Cleaning Institute, 56 percent of American consumers use antibacterial soap on a regular basis and 83 percent would like to retain the choice to purchase them.

“This poll demonstrates that American consumers want access to soaps that are proven to eliminate germs and help fight infections,”​ said spokesman for the American Cleaning Institute, Brian Sansoni.

“Antibacterial ingredients have been reviewed, regulated and researched by agencies around the world for more than 40 years…consumers can continue to use these products safely and effectively with great confidence,”​ he said.

Human health and environmental effects

There has been much debate surrounding the widespread use of triclosan regarding both its effects on human health as well as the environment.

In the summer of 2010, the National Resource Defence Council (NRDC) announced it would take the FDA to court over the lack of regulation surrounding the ingredient. According to NRDC, the ingredient has suspected endocrine disrupting properties and may contribute to the development of antibiotic resistant bacteria.

In addition, the organization claims that there is no tangible benefit in using the hand soaps containing the antimicrobial ingredient.

Earlier in the year, the FDA made similar claims regarding the ingredients efficacy, saying there was little evidence to suggest a health benefit from using anti-bacterial soap when compared to regular soap. However, the regulatory body (which is still performing a review of the ingredient) also said there was little evidence to suggest it posed a danger.

In April of 2010, US Committee Chairman, Edward J. Markey urged for a ban on the ingredient saying that: "there are many troubling questions about tricoslan’s effectiveness and potentially harmful effects, especially for children​”.

In a series of recommendations, he also urged the FDA to “quickly finalize its regulations in order to ban the use of tricoslan in personal care products​” and set a mandate to the FDA to act more quickly and come to a final decision on the use of the chemical “well before 2013​”.

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